Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 13, 1950

The Divine Foundation Of The Great Commission

E. C. Koltenbah. Pekin. Indiana

"All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth." (Matt. 28:18) This sublime and much overlooked statement forms the foundation of the great commission. If Jesus had been unable to make this affirmation the commission would have been meaningless. It spells the difference between deity and mere humanity in Jesus, between social reform and a new creation among his followers, between a system of ethics and a gospel with power to save. We propose to investigate this Biblical gem in its matrix of scriptural truth in an endeavor to answer the following questions: 1. What are the salient features of the authority herein claimed? 2. What, then, is the scope of the all-authority of Jesus Christ? 3. What, further, is the primary reference of the claim of Jesus Christ herein claimed? 4. Is this authority merely that of right, but without divine power? Do the scriptures divorce the authority of Jesus from his exercise of it? Or is the exercise of it the proof of his possession of authority? 5. What is the first concrete example of the exercise of the authority of Jesus and what are some necessarily inherent implications? 6. What is further implied as to the effect of this all-authority in the application of the great commission? 7. What are the inherent implications relative to his all-authority as seen in the terms of the commission? 8. Finally, what interpretation did the apostles place upon the authority of the commission as seen in their execution of it?

We trust that the readers will appreciate the limitations of space in the presentation of this matter; that of necessity it must be considered largely in extended outline.

Its Features

What are the salient features of the authority herein claimed by Jesus Christ?

'1. That of the "all-authority," or "power," of Jesus. Note first that it is all-inclusive. Jesus affirmed that he had all authority in heaven and on earth. "For He (God) put all things in subjection under his feet." (I Cor. 15:27) Note further that it is all-exclusive. If all authority is Christ's none is left to another. Only God himself is not subject to Christ. (I Cor. 15:27) Furthermore, "no one cometh to the Father, but by Me" (Jn. 14:6), the Lord had said. (Cf. Acts 4:12) This position of authority is to be retained until "all things have been subjected unto him." (I Cor. 15:28) Even then it is not stated that he will be stripped of authority.

Now it is patent that Christ either had this authority as claimed, or he was guilty of high fraud and blasphemy, or else was completely self-deluded. We regard the last alternative too puerile for further notice. As to the second, the high and matchless character of Jesus, the record of his life, his impact upon the history of man, and his matchless code submitted through his apostles, render this view untenable. When it is considered in the light of the New Testament scriptures it is preposterous. One alternative remains, viz., that Jesus is what he claimed and that he possessed the authority he claimed. Hence, it follows that any claim of authority by any other person must of necessity be that of delegation or usurpation. If it be delegated it will be established by due credentials in keeping with the type of authority exercised. If the credentials are wanting the authority is that of usurpation.

2. The next salient feature is that of divine commitment, "hath been given." This necessarily refers to the divine source of authority. It is stated elsewhere; "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand." (Jn. 3:35) (Cf. Matt. 11:27, Jn. 10:30) This lays claim to the divine right to it. (Jn. 17:2) Again, it intimates Jesus' collaboration with the Father's will. "For I am come down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." (Jn. 6:38) Finally, it infers the execution of the divine purpose. "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to accomplish his work." (Jn. 4:34).

3. —The third feature is that of personal possession of the all-authority; "unto me." This claim is present and personal. It is not a shared claim. It has no reference to an impersonal principle. It is not distant and extraneous. It is vital and personal. Again, it suggests the personal claim to deity. Not even the archangel dared assume the prerogative of deity. (Jude 9) Jesus calmly claimed the authority of deity. "All things have been delivered unto me of my Father: and no one knoweth who the Son is, save the Father; and who the Father is, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal him." (Lu. 10:22) (Cf. Acts 2:36), Phil. 2:9-10) From this it becomes evident that there is here inferred an irrevocable personal opposition to Satan's usurpation of power. The battle line is drawn; there is no quarter given, none asked; there is no compromise, no peace; the conflict terminates at the consummation of all things. Then, too, here is implied the immediate statement and proclamation of Jesus' personal will. (Matt. 28:19-29).

4. The final feature of this authority is its universal scope; "in heaven and on earth." Since Matthew is the one writer who records this statement we present his analysis of it. It is generally agreed that Matthew's record of Jesus lays emphasis upon our Lord's kingship. Hence, we have the following. —(1) Matthew presents Jesus as the one having the inherited right to make the claim to all authority; by submitting his royal lineage. (2) He presents his as the one who demonstrated his inherent right to make this claim; by submitting numerous examples of his miracles. (3) He presents him as the one who had established the scriptural right to make this claim; by submitting his fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. (4) Finally, he presented him as the one who had the divine right to make this claim; by submitting his glorification in his resurrection from the dead.

"Lift up your heads, o ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the king of glory will come in." (Cf. Psa. 24:7-10).